CHARLOTTE - Panthers head coach Matt Rhule doesn't have a general manager or a full coaching staff at the moment, but he does have another assignment.
The Panthers and Dolphins have been chosen to coach in the 2021 Reese's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
The game itself is Jan. 30, but the most important part is the week of practice leading up to it, when Rhule and his staff can get an in-depth look at some of this year's top college prospects.
Last year, some skinny kid from Southern Illinois named Jeremy Chinn had a great week of practice there and vaulted into the second round. It seems his current team is fond of him.
"We're thrilled to coach at the Senior Bowl," Rhule said. "Every year, Jim Nagy and his staff put together the best showcase of college talent in the nation, and we're really excited to lead and get to know a team of this year's top draft prospects."
The Panthers pick eighth in the 2021 NFL Draft, while the Dolphins own the third and 18th selections.
Of particular interest to the Panthers will be getting a look at the quarterback prospects. At the moment, the six quarterbacks who have accepted invitations to the game (to be divided among the two teams) are Texas A&M's Kellen Mond, Texas' Sam Ehlinger, Notre Dame's Ian Book, Florida's Kyle Trask, Arkansas's Feleipe Franks, and Wake Forest's Jamie Newman.
The Panthers have only coached in the Senior Bowl once before, when George Seifert led his staff there in 2000. That led to the (unfortunate) selections of cornerback Rashard Anderson in the first round and guard Leander Jordan in the third, though they got good work out of sixth-round guard Jeno James and seventh-round linebacker Lester Towns who played in the Senior Bowl that year.
The Panthers coaching staff is still in a bit of flux at the moment. They've already lost quarterbacks coach Jake Peetz and coaching assistant D.J. Mangas to LSU (where they will be offensive coordinator and passing game coordinator, respectively), and assistant offensive line coach Marcus Satterfield left to become offensive coordinator at South Carolina.
Also, offensive coordinator Joe Brady has interviewed for four head coaching jobs (Jets, Falcons, Texans, Chargers), and defensive passing game coordinator Jason Simmons has interviewed for the defensive coordinator job in Dallas.